Tag Archives: heroin

Catching My Breath

“I have made the big decision…I’m gonna try to nullify my life…”

 

You know what’s funny about junkies is, they are so completely predictable.  They isolate, self-medicate, lie, bow out of anything and everything meaningful, rarely answer a call higher than drugs, and are generally completely and entirely irresponsible.  You don’t let them baby-sit or house-sit.  You don’t loan them your car.  You pray they won’t call, since it’s probably a crack at securing money or a safe place to use.  You lose sleep if they don’t call.  You eye them when they’re in your house.  Most of the time, you lose touch with them, whether you mean to or not.

 

It’s amusing how at the first sign of any confrontation, a junkie can instantly transform into the busiest, most reliable, and impressively hardworking person on earth.  When a junkie is faced with the prospect of something like inpatient rehab, there is no one alive who can compete with a junkie for first prize in responsibility, reliability, obligation, a sense of duty, and a full calendar.  “But I have to work!  “People rely on me!”  “I have responsibilities!”  “I can’t pay bills if I leave.”  “My life would fall apart!”  And the ever-conventional: “I just need time.”  Not hard to read in between the lines of why they really don’t want to go.

 

Of course, any junkie already knows his/her life has fallen apart.  Junkies suck at paying bills; they find employment difficult or impossible; they do a piss-poor job of attending to people and things in their life, including themselves; and they have this magical ability to ruin everything they touch.  The reality is, no one needs a junkie around.  It’s worse than wasted space, because it’s just a drain. 

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I can’t stay on track.  Every time I make progress, I lose it.  It’s like trying to hold onto water.  I can do it for a while, but the whole time, the water keeps seeping through hidden cracks in my hands until I’m left clutching air.  I keep trying to go back to where everything went so amiss, but every time I think I reach the inception, I find my mistakes are rooted still more deeply.  This is where I am now: whether or not to do methadone.

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Last time I quit, I promised myself that if I landed here again, I would try it.  I’ve gone in circles so long that I’ve lost my bearings.  Conflicting thoughts about quitting are causing a raging battle inside my head that drowns everything else out.  Reasons for wanting to avoid methadone: inviting The Man into my life, potentially swapping one addiction for a less superior one, cost, and a lot of uncertainty.  I’ve been trying to learn about methadone, but I have so many questions.  I don’t know what it will be like to go down there every day.  I wouldn’t have a say in how much they give me, and what if I get a physician who decides to start lowering my dose quickly?  It seems there is always an introductory cutoff level, usually around 30 or 40 mg.  What if that’s not enough?  Even if it is, it doesn’t deliver the rush like smack.  Sure I could add some benzos or alcohol into the mix, but it’s not the same, and what if they test for those?  Reasons to give it a try: I’m feeling a little threadbare. I keep doing the same thing over and over, and the only thing that changes is that I feel a little more apathetic each go-around.  I need to distance myself from where I get drugs, and I don’t know any other way.  A lot to think about over the next few days.

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The Big Plunge

I’ve been navigating the last several weeks with the attitude that my using has to come to an end.  I keep gearing myself up to feeling more and more ready, and each time, I tell myself that I’ve had enough and it’s not going to bring me any more satisfaction.  While I’m not in love with the idea of quitting, I do feel more ready than I think I ever have.  In the past, I’ve tended to quit impulsively, and then I feel cheated and pissed off because I didn’t have long enough to say my goodbyes.  There’s no promise that quitting will work this time, but I’m giving it my best shot.

I’m trying to pilot this crack at sobriety logically rather than emotionally.  I’ve been spending a lot of time reflecting, writing (especially here), and weighing the benefits and drawbacks to a future without heroin.  This morning, my body was causing me a lot of grief.  I’ve consistently trashed it, and I’m worn out.  I’ve been warned about the damage I’ve done to my brain and heart.  I’ve damaged my bones, because unless I have someone looking out for me, I don’t eat.  How can I contribute meaningfully to the world when I can’t take care of myself?  My period stopped a long time ago.  I’m tired all the time to the point where I feel like I move about in a twilight world, but my sleeping habits are deplorable, and I can’t sleep more than an hour at a time.  I used to run 50 miles a week, and now I get tired just walking.  I’m embarrassed writing this, but that’s the ugly side of drugs.  I’ve overdosed in public and by myself, and it’s terrifying.  On Halloween I got to play up the heroin chic look :-) but most of the time,  I don’t like getting looks from people.  I miss wearing short sleeves.

Socially, I’ve dropped out of anything meaningful.  I don’t contribute to causes or volunteer my time.  I’ve quite playing music, which I ache to have back.  I’m past the point where I have to make excuses to friends, because most of them have stopped calling, and they get tired of me always getting fall-down trashed when we go out or having to leave two hours into the evening.  The ones who know get offended when I use in public.  I’ve gotten myself into a lot of dangerous and stupid situations, because I forfeit all control when I’m high.  I never feel lonely with drugs, but sometimes I realize how much I miss what I used to have.  I survived this semester, but I didn’t learn very much, because it was a blur.  I’ve screwed up so badly at work that I don’t know where to begin fixing things.

Reasons to keep using…?  Fuck dependence and withdrawal.  I want to be free of that cycle.  It’s Sunday.  I’m going to finish up the rest of my schoolwork today so that I just have to show up to turn my work in, and by Tuesday I’ll be done with school.  By Thursday when I go to counseling, I will hopefully be on the tail end of being sick.  I can generally get clean on my own if I really try, but I can never maintain it.  I hope counseling will help.  I’m resolved to get on methadone if I relapse, but for now, I’m going to try to save the $70 per week and put it toward counseling and groceries.

Anyway…thanks to all who have been such a support here.  Your encouragement has made all the difference in helping me to feel ready.

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Moving Toward Treatment

Yesterday I went to a counseling session.  It felt so good to do something positive for myself.  It lends a new perspective to have things evaluated through the eyes of another person, especially someone who is so clear-headed and objective.  It was quite sobering, and I left feeling both relieved and scared.  We worked on a plan to start moving toward sobriety, although our goals are different…I want to get back to where I’m in control of my using again; he wants me completely clean.  I know I’m deceiving myself if I think I can contain my habit, but the idea of living a chemical-free life for more than a week is alien and nerve-racking.   I have zero capacity for controlled use.

He talked about enabling.  He defined it as people who allow me to use without imposing any negative consequences.  When I think about it in those terms, I guess I know a lot of enablers.  He talked about building a support system of about four people to be a safety net when I’m feeling tempted to use.  I couldn’t give him four names.  We came up with two, but it was a stretch.  My habit has given me the courage and motive to burn bridges, sabotage healthy relationships, and withdraw from the world.  Two years ago I would have been able to name a host of people that I felt close enough to trust and reach out to for help.  Addiction is most efficient when it is safeguarded by isolation.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve consistently chosen addiction over relationships with family and friends.

He talked about methadone.  I’m not sure what to think.  I asked about potential for abuse, and he said there is potential, but distribution is regulated.  I didn’t ask what happens if you crush it up and shoot it with smack, because if it is another way to get fucked up, then I’m all for it.  I will have to learn more about it.  Therein lies my vice…I tend to abuse anything I can get my hands on.  I thought of asking about buprenorphine, since it supposedly has a lower potential for abuse, but I stopped myself because why on earth would I choose a treatment that can’t be milked for another high over one that can?  He did say it’s dangerous to be on heroin and methadone at the same time. 

I don’t know whether it’s wise to voluntarily consent to a government drug test (I assume it would be accessible to the government if it’s through a clinic) and have it become a part of my permanent medical history.  The thought of having my name next to a positive check is profoundly disconcerting.  It may never make a difference, but once I commit, I can’t undo it.  I would hate to clean up, put my life back together, try to get a job in the courts someday, and be denied because the information surfaces. Maybe I should stick to short-term goals and worry more about surviving now than about the far-off future, but I don’t want to dig a hole for myself that I can’t undo.

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Semester Woes

This semester has been a bit tumultuous.  I slunk back to school after a long break (it’s been over two years with one failed attempt in between).  I jumped into the endeavor without any sensible precautions as to what I could reasonably take on.  It seemed like a breeze.  I was riding high on the fact that I had aced every test and paper, and it seemed perfectly manageable for a while.  To my shy embarrassment, I was the student my teachers were making exemplary examples of (although I was unintentionally acing some of their tests while on cocaine, for which I meekly apologize now).  I thought that if I could just keep going a little longer, I would have the semester successfully bagged.  I lost control a couple of weeks ago, and now I’m scrambling to keep my head afloat.  I hope I prove to be more bouyant than I feel.

I almost forgot to show up for a test when I was high.  Still moderately high, I walked in thirty minutes late and felt pressure to catch up so the rest of the class wouldn’t be waiting on me before all the tests were in and the lecture could begin.  I almost certainly set a new record for speed writing while on heroin.  [A word to the wise: if you find yourself taking a test while mentally compromised, use a pencil.  I did not.]  As it turned out, I flew through the damn thing and turned it in before half the class did.  I get that test back tomorrow.  It goes without saying that my hopes are gloomy.  I should rightfully be failed based simply on the number of times I scratched out my tell-all, ink-etched sentences and started over.

Tuesday is Judgment Day.  I have an hour-long presentation to give on a project that was assigned in early October, but that I’ve conveniently adjourned from my thoughts until this week.  Hmm.  It should be a disaster of colossal proportions, but in light of the worst case scenario, I’m game for offering my classmates an hour of spirited entertainment.

I seem to be at least the second generation in my family to embody this trend.  Well…I’ve dipped to new lows, but I’m not the first to dabble in scholastic debauchery.  My dad was the first that I know of.  He survived high school, college, and law school with perhaps the highest grades and lowest median average of sobriety of any student.  He was voted most outstanding senior by the junior class.  He was elected the head of a straight-laced and straight-faced pre-med fraternity that promptly became suspended after it rapidly deteriorated to the most scandalous party fraternity on campus.  To be fair, he put his nose to the grindstone in law school by working daily and attending classes nightly, but his weekends never lent themselves entirely to studying. 

The fundamental difference between my dad and I is that he was drinking then, and I’m doing drugs now.  However much I laugh at my situation, I cannot possibly continue for long like this.  Heroin and education are fundamentally opposed, not least because of the fact that I hardly remember portions of my life for the last two years.  Even if I continue to grasp course material, memorization is impossible, and I am therefore doomed to fail if I can’t quit.  I don’t think I will fail any classes this semester, which I consider that a bona fide miracle, but I can’t ask to get by on another semester of lucky breaks.  The question now is whether to enroll for any classes next semester or forget about school once again.

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Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged?

I had a harsh run-in today with an ex friend.  I love this friend dearly, and we were inseparably close.  I lost touch and fucked things up, and she logically moved on.  She laid into me about drugs and the person I’ve become.  There was nothing I could say in defense. 

A note was left on my car a few days ago saying something to the extent of “death to junkies.”  It indicated that I should consider a new career path of going to Iraq to be target practice for soldiers.  I don’t know who left it.

I’ve encountered  harsh judgment from a lot of people.  The above Iraq comment is used frequently with reference to drug users.  Another common one is that we should be sent to the Middle East to be blown up by terrorists in an attempt to appease their call for blood.  I would never move to argue with anyone about the complete worthlessness of my role in humanity.  If the military accepted enrollment of junkies to better serve troops in target practice, I might consider it, if I weren’t inclined toward pacifism.  However, the more I get familiarized with the world of drugs, the more I see that the true targets should be the distributors, not the users.  It’s not an attempt to shift blame for the problem from myself.  Most days I feel the weight of the entire drug problem on my shoulders.  However, chasing down users and throwing them in jail does little to solve the problem because it’s not a deterrent, and in fact, it plays a hand in inflaming the problem on a societal level (think taxes, overcrowded jails, the propensity for nonviolent criminals to become more rebellious upon serving time).  The farther up the chain the problem is targeted, the more effective the solution will be. 

opium-poppy.jpgAccording to the Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics for 2003 (the most recent year I had) for dispositions conducted by U.S. attorneys, the total number of suspects for all offenses totaled 128,518.  Of those, drug offenses made up the largest single bracket by far at 28,537.  This included all drug offenses, including marijuana.  Drug offenses had the highest percentage of prosecution (82.2%).  In contrast, the prosecution rate was 72.8% for weapons offenses, 61.3% for violent offenses, and 60% for property offenses.    The average rate of prosecution for all offenses was 62.3%, so the rate for drug prosecutions of 82.2% is disproportionate. 

I always assumed the consumer creates the need and the supplier fulfills it.  Therefore, eliminate the demand, and you eliminate the supply.  It would just dry up.  However, a friend recently offered a differing viewpoint that maybe it’s the suppliers who create the need, and the consumers who fulfill it.  It’s food for thought.  China’s history is a case in point.  Certain illicit drugs are destructive enough that they cannot seem to be handled by any society no matter what.  Opium and its derivatives seem to be one such group of drugs.  China fought wars to keep opium out, but perhaps the richest and most aggressive drug cartel of all time– the British Empire– defeated them and overtook Hong Kong to keep the opium flowing.  Over 25% of China’s adult male population subsequently became addicted.  Had the Empire chosen to push their booming campaign on a different nation, what would have stopped the outcome from being any different?

Like most other social issues, this problem is best analyzed from a host of angles to arrive at the most effective solution.  Different individuals or groups will try to cook the problem down to one specific origin, which is effective in the same way that a bipartisan system is effective in politics to ensure that the scales never tip too far in any one direction.  Blame can be attributed to individual choice, genetic propensity, societal disadvantages, institutionalized inequality, or a host of other views.  Like most things, the truth is often somewhere in the middle, or an amalgam of all viewpoints.  Prevailing winds carry social attitudes.  Right now, I think the perception of drug use is in a fascinating transition from individual weakness to a certifiable disease.  The DSM-IV classifies drug addiction as a treatable disease.  The medical field is heading such a viewpoint, and society seems to be sluggishly embracing it.  It matters because the question of who or what is responsible dictates how the problem is approached and solutions are pursued.  So far, the “war on drugs” has had no qualms about heavily targeting the lowest bottomfeeders– the addicts who use but don’t sell– along with the rest of the drug chain.  It has been largely ineffective, and has caused collateral damage at all levels of society.  As one of those bottomfeeders, I can practically vouch that stopping me will not go far in taking a sizeable chunk out of the problem, but it will go far in burning taxpayer dollars and tying up governmental resources better spent stopping my supplier, or those who supply him. 

I was friends with my dealer long before I started using.  I don’t blame him for my choices, and I have a hard time judging him when it’s my arm his product goes into, but he’s an exceptionally destructive person toward individuals and society.  I’m just a small piece of the puzzle, and he hurts me constantly.  Better me (a lowly bottomfeeder) than anyone else, but I presume I’m not a unique case.  A couple of months ago, I walked in on him.  He grabbed his gun, clocked me twice, and I went down bleeding and half unconscious, but he didn’t stop there with the pummeling.  I had a seizure that night.  Another time he dropped me to my knees, grabbed my hair, put his gun to the back of my head, and switched the safety off.  He said, “I hope you’re ready to meet your maker, because you’re about to fucking die.”  What was I going to do after that, call the cops on him?  He has forbidden me to get treatment, and when I try to quit, he ropes me back in with plenty of free drugs.  It’s a business to him, sine qua non.  Knowing that I am not an isolated case, I bear witness to the significant violent threat he poses to society. I use, but I’ve never committed a peripheral crime to maintain my habit.  Drug fighting forces should drop nonviolent users of all kinds to the lowest priority and instead focus their time and money on bigger fish.

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Relapse

I am really fucking up.  For a while now I’ve been using every few hours around the clock, including at work.  Using in public obviously increases the chance of getting arrested, and I think I would care except that all I really care about is using.  I had been binging more and more frequently, then the episodes started bleeding into each other until there was no letup, and it’s been that way for over a month.  My best friend asked me to quit for a day, since the prior week had been way out of control.  I agreed to when he pointed out that getting high would be more effective the next day if I could get my tolerance to drop a bit.  Going clean is torture.  I got sick faster than I ever have after about six hours.  By early evening, I got hold of a bit from a source I had never used before.  The stuff was either bad or else I was allergic to something in it, because it really messed with me.  A few hours later, I had what felt like a heart attack (I’ve had two confirmed ones, plus seizures and overdoses), but I don’t know for sure.  I laid in bed in acute pain and unable to move, and I didn’t call into work.  I’ve been missing at least one day a week, and I show up late or leave early a lot.  The few hours I manage to be there, I usually use at least once.  I can’t get back in control.  This isn’t me.  For a long time I balanced working eighty hours between two jobs with school on the side.  I had friends, was happy, clean, and I was good to my parents and siblings.  I don’t know how to stop now, but I’m also not sure if I want to stop.

Two nights ago I was hanging out with my neighbor, who was the hookup for the bad stuff.  He was on something that made him extremely aggressive.  He was telling me how fragile skinny girls are while slamming his wall.  That scared the piss out of me, so I got up to leave, and he punched me three times, bam bam bam, in the face and stomach.  When I got back to my place upstairs, he came and pounded on my door for over an hour with no letup.  Calling the cops was out because I was high as a kite, and he’s on parole and would go back to prison for a long time.  I don’t like the guy, but I don’t want to be the one to maket that call.  The next night (last night) I was back at his place using, and he offered to share his vile drug that made him so aggressive.  It turned out to be PCP.  I’ve never tried a drug I didn’t like until last night.  I was scared out of my wits.  I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t.  I had terrifying thoughts, scary hallucinations, and was viciously suicidal.  I sat in the shower for over an hour desperately wanting to kill myself.  I don’t remember a lot of it, but after sobering up a bit, I got out a notebook and wrote some pretty crazy things down that I read this morning.  In April I had a lethal overdose that happened really fast.  The dealer’s roommate (they’re both my good friends) took me to the side of a road and called 911 from my phone before leaving me there.  I haven’t spent much time thinking about the overdose, but last night my thoughts were heavily focused on it.  From what I wrote, I think I was questioning whether I had been alive or dead since it happened, because I had felt dead since April.  Strange drug. 

Yesterday, I think I stumbled on my family’s plan for an intervention, so I laid low.  This morning I listened to my dreaded voicemails.  The first several were attempts of friends and family to contact me, people I haven’t heard from in months, just wanting to “talk.”  Those morphed into emergency calls from my parents taking my mom to the hospital in the afternoon.  She just had heart surgery last week, and I never went to see her in the hospital or at her house afterward.  Two days prior to her surgery, my dad had received some bad results from a biopsy, but they still don’t know what precisely is wrong with him.  I haven’t been there for him either.   They are both really sick, and their drinking on top of their health problems is killing them faster.  Meanwhile, I went AWOL while they’re simultaneously facing what could be the death of them.  I hate myself so much lately.  How do I face them today?  I have to see my dad in a little bit, and I don’t know what I will say to him.

Okay, this was a completely pessimistic post, but a vent was in order before work. 

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Cheers to Cleaning Up

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I’m going clean today.  I’m not exactly sure why, but I guess a friend talked some sense into me, so it’s off to the races for yet another stab at the unlikely.  It’s 4AM on Monday…the work week starts in a few hours…and I’m already going nuts.  I have a few hours of sobriety under my belt, and I’m already crawling out of my skin and getting swallowed by horrible thoughts.  Cheers to a long week from hell looming overhead and high hopes for the best….

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